At times it wasn’t very pretty. But, in the end Milaca’s 14-13 Granite Ridge Conference victory over Albany last Friday night was beautiful as the Wolves scored their first victory of the 2013 season and ended a 13-game losing streak that began with the final game of the 2011 season.
“We made some mistakes but we’ll certainly take the win,” said Milaca Coach Randy Johnson. “It was a giant step forward for us to overcome our mistakes.
“One of our goals for the game was to overcome negative plays and turnovers. The players did an excellent job both on the field and on the sidelines to keep our energy levels high and consistent throughout the game.”
The Wolves came out throwing behind sophomore quarterback Nathan Hass. The team’s No. 1 quarterback when the season began, senior Brian Kiel, and No. 2 quarterback, junior Mike Garber, returned to the field after both were sidelined with injuries a week earlier against Little Falls. Garber had been sidelined two games.
Both contributed to the victory, with Kiel moving to a running back spot where he rushed six times for 32 yards and Garber returning to the defensive backfield where he made several key plays.
Hass had another impressive game in his second career start.
After completing 19 of 34 passes against Little Falls Sept. 13, he completed 17 of 28 for 265 yards against Albany. Hass, who had three passes intercepted, teamed with senior back Jorgen Erickson on a 60-yard scoring pass for Milaca’s first touchdown in the opening quarter.
Hass came out throwing as he completed 12 of 19 passes for 200 yards in the first half.
“After watching the scout film on Albany we felt we’d be able to move the ball through the air,” said Johnson. “Nathan had another solid game.”
Hass spread his passes around, with five players making receptions. Junior wide receiver Nic Wolbert had seven receptions for 104 yards while junior wide receiver Christian Kruse had three catches for 37 yards and Erickson had two catches for 65 yards.
“Milaca mixed its running and passing very well,” said Albany Coach Mike Kleinschmidt. “Our defense rose to the occasion several times but our offense was pretty stagnant much of the game. But, I give Milaca’s defense credit for a game well played.”
Milaca was able to get a ground game going behind senior fullback Ian Carpenter who carried 20 times for 72 yards.
“The line opened some nice holes,” said Carpenter. “I just tried to push forward for extra yards each time I carried. It was a fun night.”
Johnson cited the blocking of senior center Matt VanSomeren, junior guards Brad Bekius, Cody Peterson, and Jake Merten, and junior tackles Josh Otten, Zach Peterson and Austin Weidner.
A 13-yard scoring run by senior Trevor Seppala and Wolbert’s second extra-point kick gave Milaca a 14-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
With about four minutes remaining the Huskies scored on a 14-yard run by junior quarterback Zac Tomsche, his second touchdown run of the game. The Huskies decided to go for two points on the conversion but Tomsche’s pass was knocked down in the end zone by senior Mike Warren.
“Any time you go for two points it’s a gamble,” said Kleinschmidt. “But, I think I’d do it again. I credit Milaca – they were well-prepared to defend the play.”
Milaca, 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the GRC, is at Mora Friday night at 7 o’clock. Albany, also 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the GRC, hosts first-place Becker Friday night.